As we've discussed in-depth during the Communications API track at Enterprise Connect, as well as in various No Jitter posts, the communications API has risen, and it's getting stronger by the day. While I wouldn't say embedding communications functionality via APIs into business processes and applications has become commonplace at this point, the notion is novel no longer.
If you're a traditionalist, perhaps the idea scares you. Heck, it may be daunting to even those who thrive on new challenges. The trend puts communications functionality into developers' hands. Is your business ready to work with developers? Do you know how to speak their language -- and vice versa? Does your company even have developer resources, or will you need to hire external expertise? Are communications APIs available for the software in use at your organization?
These are some of the questions UC-as-a-service (UCaaS) provider RingCentral has been mulling over on behalf of its customers since launching its communications developer platform, RingCentral Connect Platform, in February 2015, David Lee, VP of platform products, shared with me yesterday in an interview. And in seeking an answer, RingCentral turned to Zapier, the popular Web app automation service.
Earlier this week, RingCentral announced an integration with the Zapier platform, giving companies a developer-free way to embed RingCentral Office voice and messaging capabilities into hundreds of commonly used SaaS applications. "This is our way to open up the power of APIs to folks that don't have developer resources," Lee said.
RingCentral becomes the first UCaaS provider to enter the Zapier sphere, although not the first communications API provider, as you can see from the screen capture below.
RingCentral even sees the usefulness of the Zapier integration for large enterprises that have substantial, but constrained, developer organizations. If the business wants call recordings automatically stored in the Amazon cloud, "something like Zapier can be really helpful," Lee said. Rather than submitting a request to the developer team and waiting for available resources, now IT can take immediate action and automate the workflow itself via Zapier.
On the volume side, if your organization is using the free Zapier service, you'd be limited in how often a task -- or Zap, as it's called -- can be triggered. With the free service, you might only be able to move one call recording to that Amazon storage cloud once every 15 minutes, for example.
The RingCentral Office integration with Zapier, which has been in beta since March, became generally available this week. The adoption rate has been "pretty good," Lee said, matching the company's expectations of pent-up demand. "Companies have picked up RingCentral because they want to be in the cloud and for ease of use... but they've also picked up a lot of other software for the same reason. And then they've quickly realized that they need these tools to talk to each other," and that's what this integration is aimed at enabling.
Besides the call recording archival example mentioned above, RingCentral provides a sampling of other use cases. These include:
In one of his favorite examples (he's soliciting ideas via the Twitter hashtag #coolRingZaps), Lee said he knows of a use case in which somebody created an automated workflow that triggers a text message upon receipt of an email from his boss.
"In this multimodal world, the ability to create rules around communications and make sure you stay well informed is a great use case for Zapier integration," he said.
Think about this way, Lee suggested: The ability to embed communications and collaboration into workflows via Zapier is about the democratization of communications APIs. "This isn't just about elite folks or those who have the money to buy dev time anymore."
Communications APIs for the masses? It just be that easy one day.